Outlook for Video Game Design Careers

Learn what's going on and what to expect in the video game design industry.

The Time is Right

Video game design represents a vibrant and fast-growing part of the entertainment industry. First Research, Inc. reports that consumers spent about $50 billion on video game software in 2013.

These kind of statistics underscore the fact that video games are a staple of daily life for many Americans. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), 51 percent of American households own a dedicated console. The average age of game players is 30, and they've been playing for 13 or more years. 

Things that Affect Video Game Design Salaries

Here are just a few of the issues that will come into play when you are looking for jobs and hoping for that big paycheck:

  • Geographic Location – If you live in a large city instead of a rural area, chances are good that your video game designer salary will be higher to account for cost of living differences. 
     
  • Job Experience –The longer you've worked in the field the more valuable you'll be to your employer. You'll have expertise and an understanding of how to get things done in a real-world work environment.
     
  • Education Level – While a degree is not the be-all-end-all key to success, it certainly can't hurt you—especially when it comes time to negotiate your video game designer salary.
     
  • Job Title – While paying your dues is often an inescapable part of starting a new career, it never hurts to be thinking about your job path and how you might like your career to evolve over time.
     
  • Employer – If you work for a large company, you may make more than if you work for a small startup. There can be clear advantages to either, so it's really a matter of determining which employer is the best fit for you. 

Salary Averages

Here are median annual salaries for video game industry jobs: 

Position Median Annual Salary*
Programmer $74,280
Artist/Animator $61,370
Video Game Designer $58,950
Producer $71,350
Quality Assurance Tester $34,460
Sound Designer $41,200
Business Marketer $119,480

Sources:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15;  Computer ProgrammersMultimedia Artists and Animators; Graphic Designer; Producers and Directors; Quality Control Inspectors; Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians; Marketing Managers.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Where Are the Career Opportunities?

In the U.S., six states account for more than 75 percent of the video game industry. If you're serious about a video game design career, you may want to consider relocating to one of the following states:

Rank State

Percentage of Video Game Design Industry

1 California 41.27%
2 Texas 10.47%
3 Washington 9.45%
4 New York 5.22%
5 Massachusetts 4.10%
6 Illinois 3.63%

Source: Entertainment Software Association Industry Report 2010